On Wednesday night, exactly twenty-three seconds before the midnight deadline, I sent off the final assignment of my undergraduate career.
Too bad that, within seconds, my article bounced back.
“Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure)…This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification…”
Clearly, an over-caffinated, over-anxious, over-stressed student on the brink of completion would not take such an event lightly. I felt panicked, delirious, and even a little bit angry. This was supposed to be my moment! The reverse-Cinderella-magic at midnight!
Of course, my internet connection decided to slow to a crawl. As I typed and re-typed the email address–which I was sure was correct–I had to wait several agonizing seconds (what? we live in hyper-speed, you know) only to find it was still bouncing back.
Without a second thought, I grabbed my cell phone and punched in Paul’s telephone number. Andrew tried to stop me but before he could…
“Hello?” said a scratchy voice on the other end.
“Paul? Fabiola. I sent in my article before the deadline at 11:59:37 but it bounced back and I made sure it was the right email address and I even tried…”
“I know,” he interrupted.
“You know!?” I squeaked, “Well, what can I do? I mean do you have another email address?” My heart felt like it was going to explode.
As I tried to make out Paul’s half-asleep, half-annoyed words, I learned that I hadn’t been his only caller. The virtual echo chamber brought back the voices of other classmates desperate to cross that figurative finish line. All the stress and uncertainty of the strike that was supposed to culminate smoothly in this one moment was instead intensifying.
Paul gave me an alternate email address (that he had to repeat three times because I don’t speak murmur) and went back to bed. I sent it off and waited.
It didn’t bounce back. But instead of doing cartwheels, dancing, and jumping on my bed, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and shut down my computer. I felt a fantastic (though fragile) sense of relief.